The Air Force Academy requires its incoming cadets to watch a diversity and inclusion video supportive of attending a Black Lives Matter chapter meeting. Critics argue this proves military academies have implemented critical race theory as part of their curriculum.
“We are pleased to offer this introductory D&I course as part of our commitment to working with cadets and cadet candidates in fostering a safe community built on mutual respect, teamwork, and personal dignity,” a note from Yvonne L. Roland, the director of Culture, Climate, and Diversity, reads at the onset of the training.
The video follows Jose, a minority student, and three friends, while the instructions tell cadets to “decide how you think his friends should respond.” In the first scenario, two of the white friends pressure Jose to attend a Black Lives Matter rally, while the third later posits that the slogan should be “All Lives Matter,” which was later described as a “really problematic” comment.
“I can confirm this is part of required training for inbound cadets,” Air Force Academy spokesman Dean Miller told the Washington Examiner. “This is the first year this training has been used, and it is used at universities across the country.”
Retired Lt. Gen. Rod Bishop and Dr. Ron Scott, a retired USAF Col., created an organization, Stand Together Against Racism and Radicalism in the Services, Incorporated, to stop the implementation of critical race theory, which they argue is “simply Marxism repackaged in new terms.”Black Lives Matter as an organization has openly espoused Marxism as part of its stated aims, though the phrase is often used to describe concerns about police shootings in black communities. . . .
In light of the political agenda at the heart of BLM, coupled with the polarizing nature of the organization, perhaps the Air Force Academy should take a more principle-based approach to solving inequality, as opposed to an identity-based model.
These 10 resources, written by conservatives and liberals alike, provide a toolkit for understanding — and debunking — Robin DiAngelo’s toxic concepts.
Robin DiAngelo, whose white fragility theory has become one of the most influential ideas about racism in America, is a scholar-activist who has openly called for academic “revolution” as a means of de-centering whiteness in America and stopping so-called white supremacy and institutional racism.
As she writes in her seminal paper on white fragility, “Whiteness Studies begin with the premise that racism and white privilege exist in both traditional and modern forms, and rather than work to prove its existence, work to reveal it,” making it clear she’s more interested in forwarding her narrative about the oppressive nature of whiteness than in using the scientific method to prove it. In her Author’s Note to her bestselling book White Fragility: Why It’s So Hard for White People to Talk About Racism, DiAngelo admits that it’s “unapologetically rooted in identity politics,” and that we as Americans “have yet to achieve our founding principle, but any gains we have made thus far have come from identity politics.”
DiAngelo’s progressive activism is rooted in ideas that lack sufficient support from social science research, and as a scholar-activist, she tends to put politics over science, making her work more about ideological preferences than rational inquiry. Her work lacks rigorous hypothesis testing and quantitative measurement; makes sweeping generalizations about entire groups of people without backing these assertions with the use of statistical analysis; relies too heavily on anecdotal observations and flawed implicit bias research; and arrogantly presents her theories as settled science rather than hypotheses to be tested and further explored.
Below is a list of 10 resources which thoroughly critique DiAngelo’s theories and the concepts that underpin them.
2. The Flaws in White Fragility Theory: A Primer, New Discourses, by Helen Pluckrose and Jonathan Church. The title is self-explanatory: it’s a primer for understanding the major flaws in white fragility theory. Specifically, it analyses DiAngelo’s concept of “whiteness,” “white fragility,” and the shaky underlying concept of “implicit bias.” The article closes by illustrating how DiAngelo has constructed a house of cards full of logical fallacies.
3. White Fragility Theory Is a Bullying Rhetorical Tactic, The Agonist, by Jonathan Church. Robin DiAngelo believes that whites must shut up and listen. This article highlights how she uses white fragility theory to shut down whites — and any and all conversation — when they try to question or offer alternative viewpoints.
6. Diversity Training Shouldn’t Be Based On Flawed Implicit Bias Research, Philadelphia Inquirer, by Christopher Paslay. This article highlights the problems with implicit bias research, and how mandatory implicit bias trainings can have unintended negative consequences on education and business, such as hurting teacher/manager morale and provoking resentment among faculty/colleagues.
8. The Intellectual Fraud of Robin DiAngelo’s ‘White Fragility,’ The Logical Liberal, by David Edward Burke. Liberal activist and attorney David Edward Burke’s criticism of DiAngelo’s white fragility proves her questionable use of research and science is not simply a partisan issue. His article exposes how “Robin DiAngelo’s white fragility is snake oil masquerading as insight.”
9. Are Micro-Aggressions Really A Thing ?, The Good Men Project, by Jonathan Church. This article analyzes the scientific legitimacy of “microaggressions,” which like implicit bias, underpins much of whiteness studies, anti-racism, and white fragility theory.
Whiteness is not a problem that needs to be solved, and educators should refrain from pushing this divisive message in schools.
In his fifth edition of Cultural Diversity and Education, research scholar and “father” of multicultural education, James A. Banks, offers an interesting approach to fair and equitable education called multicultural ideology. Published in 2006, it’s less aggressive and confrontational than current 2020 anti-racist educational approaches, which tend to be more accusatory than celebratory; in 2006, mainstream multicultural education focused on unity over dichotomy, which is no longer the case today, as zero-sum anti-racist philosophies — which seek to deconstruct so-called problematic “Whiteness” — are now heavily influencing policies and perspectives.
Multicultural ideology is a blending of assimilation and cultural pluralism, where the American national identity adapts and develops to become more diverse and pluralistic, yet doesn’t abandon the nation’s core values — the fundamental principles that make America unique and one of the most successful countries in the world. In Cultural Diversity and Education, Banks writes that multicultural ideology is reflected in educational policy that is “guided by an eclectic ideology that reflects both the cultural pluralists position and the assimilation position, but avoids their extremes.”
Multicultural educators hope to end racism by celebrating diversity, and by interacting with people through fundamental human values, both at the conscious and subconscious levels; anti-racists hope to end racism by becoming hyper-focused on race and the cerebral concepts of implicit bias and microaggressions in order to end so-called “white supremacy culture.” The former creates a society based on values from the heart, where both racism and the preoccupation with skin color are eliminated using a moment-by-moment present awareness. The latter creates a world where, in theory, racism ends through a highly cerebral “chatter mind” process which analyzes and rejects all forms of bias whether conscious or unconscious, but still leaves us with a hyper-focus on race.
The double-standards at the heart of anti-racism are many. Tragically, the fact that there are one set of rules for whites, and another set of rules for people of color, does a disservice to the very cause of anti-racism — which is to level the playing field and bring people of all races equal access to America’s resources. Believing that “Whiteness” is a fundamental problem that must be solved is not the best approach to opening the minds of whites.
It’s well documented that the provocative approaches employed by anti-racist educators have an adverse effect on white people, as evidenced by Robin DiAngelo’s theory of “White Fragility.” Unfortunately, whites who are triggered by the divisiveness of anti-racism are not offered compassion, because according to DiAngelo, “niceness is not anti-racist.” On the contrary, whites are told to “get over it,” and that their tears are disingenuous ploys for keeping white racism in place.
The fact that these anti-racist approaches, despite eliciting such adverse reactions, continue to be put upon whites is reminiscent of a concept made popular by Dr. David R. Hawkins called “Power vs. Force,” which analyzes “the hidden determinants of human behavior.” While true power resides from within, force is applied through projection—an outside force trying to impose its will. Force can only work for so long; once it encounters true power, it immediately unravels. Interestingly, many of the emotions cited by DiAngelo as evidence of white fragility — such as anger, shame, guilt, and apathy — are listed by Hawkins as being a reaction to force. Nowhere in white fragility theory can one find positive responses related to true power, such as courage, love, joy, or enlightenment; everything tied to white fragility is zero-sum and is based on dichotomy rather than unity.
But for some reason, unity — as well as universalism, colorblindness, and other concepts which prioritize racial harmony over dichotomy — are resisted by people like DiAngelo. Such things are delegitimized and even stigmatized, and often rebranded by anti-racists as perpetuating racism. This is necessary in part to shock sheltered whites out of their bubbles and bring systemic racism to light. But the simple fact is that America needs more racial unity, and less confrontation. Provoking whites with the notion that they all suffer from implicit bias and are perpetuating racism by default, is limited in its effectiveness. The goal of disturbing a white person’s racial comfort in order to disrupt a racial hierarchy is using force instead of true power. While whites may be pressured into compliance, is this compliance genuine and long lasting? Is insisting that the advancement of people of color depends on the disruption, de-centering, or deconstruction of problematic “Whiteness” ultimately empowering people of color to live independently from the crutch of identity politics?
Educators should adhere to the mainstream definition of “Whiteness.” The zero-sum fallacy of “Whiteness” is inappropriate in American educational settings, as it does little to empower people of color, and is based in resistance and disruption, rather than cooperation and collaboration.